Antioxidants, also known as “free radical scavengers,” are chemicals that interact with and neutralise free radicals, thus preventing them from causing damage.
The human body makes some of the antioxidants, called endogenous antioxidants that it uses to neutralise free radicals, but it relies on external sources, primarily the diet, to obtain the rest of the antioxidants it needs.
External or exogenous antioxidants are commonly called dietary antioxidants and can be found in fruits, vegetables, and grains as well as in certain dietary supplements such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E.
Antioxidant supplementation during conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy is a controversial subject, which is why we are including it in our information pages, so that you have a good knowledge-base from which to make an informed decision on its use or not.
Some studies suggest taking antioxidants supplements during treatment may be beneficial; however, there are just as many studies that tell us this may be harmful.
Antioxidant Therapy as a Complementary Therapy
The use of antioxidants as a complementary therapy for cancer is highly contentious because while some laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture, and animal studies indicates that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer, other studies are not a clear in their results.
There are some concerns that some antioxidants may actually hamper the effectiveness of the radiation therapy or chemotherapy by actually protecting tumour cells, in addition to healthy cells, from the oxidative damage intentionally caused by conventional treatments.
Veronica McLymont, PhD, director of food and nutrition services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says, “We tell our patients to focus on food. Foods contain a mix of many different antioxidants, along with other nutrients and fibre. The more colourful your diet is the better, since antioxidants and other phytochemicals are often what give fruits and vegetables their colour.”
The best thing to do is to fill your plate with antioxidant-rich foods such as:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Sweet peppers
Read more about how Antioxidants are administered, Possible Side-effects and Risks etc., on our static Complementary & Alternative Therapies page, Antioxidants
Please note that the Little Fighters Cancer Trust shares information regarding various types of cancer treatments on this blog merely for informational use. LFCT does not endorse or promote any specific cancer treatments – we believe that the public should be informed but that the option is theirs to take as to what treatments are to be used.